Sunday, 12 April 2009

ESCF - Week 9

I entered our last week before Easter hols with a little more trepidation than normal. Our timetable had indicated that we would be having late finishes every day of the week bar Friday so I was expecting a gruelling marathon rather than a last minute sprint to the finish line. However, things didn't turn out as bad as I had imagined. We only had a half day on Monday because our first cuisine class was cancelled, a slight problem of our chef not being "booked". That meant the class was then re-scheduled to Tuesday morning and what an experience it was. We spent a lovely morning preparing a buffet style-lunch with chef Antoine - the concept was very much about nature (as demonstrated from the start with chef's impromptu flower arrangement), using whatever ingredients we had to hand and letting our creative juices flow. The final menu was a feast of fresh spring vegetables dressed with a number of different sauces and vinaigrettes, punctuated with a fabulous salmon and vegetable terrine and healthy roast chicken breasts with courgettes. Lunch was then rounded off with some poached pears in beetroot and rose syrup, as well as strawberries macerated in a raspberry vinegar syrup and adorned with some very pretty sakura-shaped tuiles (a nod to Japan's cherry blossom viewing). It was clear from our final buffet table set-up that chef is not only a brilliant cook (he was one of the staff from ESCF who was sent to set up FCI in NYC some 25 years ago) but a true artist and a creative spirit. His enthusiasm was really infectious and he had buckets of positivity to spare - being in his company really made me realise how lucky I am to be in this nurturing, creative and professional environment that is Ferrandi. Hopefully the pics speak for themselves, lunch was most delicious and enjoyable - I think we are supposed to be having another class with chef Antoine which I hope will be just as fun.

We then reached mid-week and our last restaurant service before Easter. The class was down by 3 people (2 of whom were at my station!), which was a little worrying as we were on plated desserts, i.e. the main event of the evening! Luckily, the rest of the class pulled together to help me out to make a classic Opera cake and a pineapple carpaccio with lime and basil sorbet. I was struggling a little with the presentation of the latter and it didn't help that I had to re-make some extra tuiles as well at the last minute; in the end, with a little brainstorming, we managed to produce a little gem of a dessert. All our hard work really paid off because we received positive feedback and compliments from the dining room, the first time this has happened since we started restaurant service which was a great feeling! Also, chef didn't even have to oversee our service as we had it under control (Super-fenny!!) which left him to potter around and do his own thing. I was focussed on getting the desserts out that I didn't even hear him call out from the other end of the lab, "Girls, I'm here if you need me..." - ha! ha! Props to the "Magnificent 7" :)

Thursday was all about tidying up and finishing off some of the cakes we had started at the beginning of the week - Opera (classic French coffee and ganache cake), Feuille d'automne (meringue cake filled with chocolate mousse and decorated with numerous chocolate leaves) and Succès (meringue cake sandwiched with buttercream). We also had the opportunity of seeing chef in action making a mini-plaque as part of a birthday cake for his boss' wife - a work of art with a pastillage painting, which was then integrated into a lake scene, mostly made from sugar, really impressive stuff! An example for us to follow and try and tap more into our creative side.

Of course, Friday morning meant boulangerie which is always a joy, bar having to work in our lab at increasingly sweltering temperatures, we are just around the corner from summer in Paris (a pleasant surprise for chef as he had just come back from Finland and having to endure -14 degrees, ouch!)

I'm really looking forward to the Easter break and heading back to the Emerald Isle to see Ma Chan - I can't believe how quickly time has passed and also how much we have learnt in just over 2 months! I'm hoping to do a little practice on my week off and see if I will be able to meld together French technique with Irish ingredients - fingers crossed! Bonnes Pâques!!

1 comment:

fenny said...

i'm a super chef!mmuuahahaha^_^.but it went well because you managed well.yes big applause to the 'magnificent 7'

your pic of the bread dough reminded me again about the little 'disaster'.but our breads turned out well,didn't they? lesson learnt:never underestimate the power of yeast!